Winning At Augusta: What It Takes To Win The Masters [Study]

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With the Masters right around the corner there are a whole host of golfers who are looking to win the Green Jacket. Augusta is known for it’s unpredictable nature with the famous saying ‘The Masters doesn’t really begin until the back nine on Sunday’.

With that being said, winners all have some common characteristics that set them apart from the rest of the field, and today we’re going to delve deeper into what it takes to win at Augusta. Based on these stats we’ll also look at some solid picks for the 2021 Masters based on their season to date.

Which Stats Matter Around Augusta: Summary

Driving Accuracy:
Masters Winners Average: 79%
Augusta Average: 70%
Regular Tour Event Average: 60%.

Par 5 Scoring:
Last 3 Masters Winners: -10.6
Field Average: -5

Putts Per Round:
Masters Winners Average: 28.5
Augusta Average: 29.5
Regular Tour Event Average: 29

Par 4 Scoring:
Last 3 Masters Winners: -4
Field Average: +4

Greens in Regulation:
Last 3 Masters Winners: 76.8%
Augusta Average: 63.9%
Regular Tour Event Average: 65.7%

Stats From Masters Winners

As you can see from our key takeaways, there are a range of stats that are imperative for Masters winners to get right if they are to have any chance of winning.

The real standout ones when compared to the rest of the field are:

a) The ability to score well on the Par 5’s.
b) Hit green’s in regulation
c) Drive accurately
d) Limit damage on the par 4 holes.
e) Putt well

These stats show that you really do have to be a great all round golfer to win the Masters. Let’s dig a little deeper into each area.

Par 5s

Starting with the Par 5 holes at Augusta. Here are the stats from the past 3 winners:

Dustin Johnson -11 (field avg. -5)

Tiger Woods -8 (field avg. -6)

Patrick Reed -14 (field avg. -4

As you can see, taking advantage of the Par 5’s with smart course management is essential in building your score around Augusta. They are the most realistic Birdie opportunities, if any and were foundations in both Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reed’s victories.

GIR

Here are the stats from the past 3 winners for greens in regulation:

Dustin Johnson 83.3% (field avg. 65.91%)

Tiger Woods 80% (field avg. 64.47%)

Patrick Reed 66.67% (field avg. 61.45%)

For both Tiger Woods & Dustin Johnson this was arguably the most important statistic (especially when compared to the field average) in ensuring they ended up winning the Green Jacket. Patrick Reed got his victory from dominating the Par 5’s but Tiger and DJ had their tee to green games in full flow which yielded them with plenty of scoring opportunities no matter which hole type it was.

Driving Accuracy

Driving Distance is important in Golf and there is a time and a place for it at Augusta. However, in general there is a huge premium in being accurate off the tee.

Dustin Johnson 78.57% (field avg. 69.63%)

Tiger Woods 62.5% (field avg. 67.72%)

Patrick Reed 73.21% (field avg. 65.61%)

What stands out here is that in 2019 Tiger Woods made 80% of Greens in Regulation despite a pretty below average level of accuracy off the tee. This says alot about the recovery and golfing abilities of Tiger Woods. Over the longer term the winners of the Masters are more in the 79% range for Driving Accuracy compared to an average for Augusta at 70%. As we can see from this, as distance is becoming more of a factor in Golf the accuracy is dipping slightly (but still important to winning).

Par 4s

Next we’ll look at the Par 4 holes at Augusta. Here are the stats from the past 3 winners:

Dustin Johnson -5 (field avg. +4)

Tiger Woods -1 (field avg. +5)

Patrick Reed -6 (field avg. +5)

As you can see here, the average par 4 score at Augusta is well over par. You’re never going to be able to build your score as aggressively on these holes as you would on the Par 5s but winners are able to hold their own. Therefore the key is really to ensure you have damage limitation here and make you score when the opportunity presents itself (Even a total score of par is going to beat most of the field!)

Putts Per Round

It goes without saying that you can’t win any golf tournament without putting well. However, you may be surprised to know that at Augusta it really is a blend of being able to hit the greens and putt well. Augusta rewards only the best golfers. you will really increase your chances of winning by hitting greens in regulation. than simply only putting well.

Dustin Johnson 29 (field avg. 29.81)

Tiger Woods 30 (field avg. 29.44)

Patrick Reed 26 (field avg. 29.59)

Dustin Johnson dominated the 2020 Masters yet was only T17 for putts per round at 29, compared to the field average of 29.81. Tiger Woods was T44 with an average of 30 when he won. Thanks to their ball striking from tee to green they were able to get the job done without relying on a Putting Masterclass.

However, it is important to note that in general to win you have to putt better than average, especially when your GIR figure isn’t as impressive as Tiger Woods or Dustin Johnson’s. This was the case with Patrick Reed in 2018 when he had a less impressive GIR figure but his putts per round were 26 compared to a field average of 29.59.

The takeaway that we can make here between the approach shot masterclasses from Dustin Johnson & Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed’s putting performance is that Strokes Gained Approach matters.

2021 Ones To Watch Based On Their Season Performance:

Below we cover some of the top golfers to watch at the 2021 Masters based on their stats for the season to date. As we’ve already stated, to perform at the Masters you require accuracy tee to green with a solid putting game and the ability to take advantage of the Par 5s.

The stats that we are taking into consideration for our picks include choosing golfers who are a good fit from the following criteria:

Par 5 Scoring

Putts Per Round

Par 4 Scoring

Greens In Regulation

Driving Accuracy

SG Approach

Justin Thomas

2020 Masters Finish: 4th

  • Par 5 Scoring Rank: 49 out of 217 (-58)
  • Par 4 Scoring Rank: 4 out of 217 (-16)
  • Driving Accuracy Rank: 124 out of 217 (58.83%)
  • Putts Per Round Rank: 8 out of 217 (28.08)
  • SG Approach Rank: 3 out of 217 (1.2 per round)
  • GIR Rank: 30 out of 217 (72.53%)

We’re going straight in with our top pick. Not only is he so consistent but after his recent Players Championship victory he is in form. His ability, previous result and general stats tell us he can expect a very strong week at Augusta. Despite his driving accuracy being below average, he is so strong in all other facets of his game, especially the all important SG approach statistic. If he can put the time into training on the range to find the fairway off the tee consistently he is going to be hard to stop.

Sungjae Im

2020 Masters Finish: T2

  • Par 5 Scoring Rank: 1 out of 217 (-109)
  • Par 4 Scoring Rank: 16 out of 217 (-15)
  • Driving Accuracy Rank: 7 out of 217 (69.89%)
  • Putts Per Round Rank: 54 out of 217 (28.7)
  • GIR Rank: 35 out of 217 (69.7%)

Why We Rate His Chances

He always takes advantage of Par 5 holes. He is the top ranked golfer on tour for this (and by some way!) He’s ranked highly across all criteria with his main issue likely to be making sure that he drops enough putts. However, this wasn’t a problem last year as he averaged 25.5 putts per round with the closest player averaging 27!

With a T2 finish in 2020 he has the experience now to know that he can go the distance at Augusta. It is only a matter of time until he puts it all together to win a Green Jacket.

Webb Simpson

2020 Masters Finish: T10

  • Par 5 Scoring Rank: 53 out of 217 (-64)
  • Par 4 Scoring Rank: 4 out of 217 (-27)
  • Driving Accuracy Rank: 5 out of 217 (71.43%)
  • Putts Per Round Rank: 56 out of 217 (28.71)
  • GIR Rank: 19 out of 217 (70.61%)

Why We Rate His Chances

He is one of the most consistent golfers on tour and ranks in the top 30% for all of the key criteria that we are looking at. As you can see he is dependable from tee to green and is unlikely to have a catastrophe on the tricky Par 4’s that Augusta has. The key for Webb Simpson will be if he can get the putter going and if he can avoid mistakes on the Par 5’s. He is a previous major winner so knows what it takes to get the job done and has finished in the top 10 in his previous two trips to Augusta so has a great chance.

Scottie Scheffler

2020 Masters Finish: T19

  • Par 5 Scoring Rank: 33 out of 217 (-71)
  • Par 4 Scoring Rank: 7 out of 217 (-25)
  • Driving Accuracy Rank: 25 out of 217 (66.99%)
  • Putts Per Round Rank: 89 out of 217 (28.89)
  • GIR Rank: 23 out of 217 (70.33%)

Why We Rate His Chances

Not only is he one of the form players on tour but he is becoming more and more consistent. This season has been a breakout season for Scottie Scheffler and he has an impressive 2020 showing at the Masters to give him confidence going in this time. He has all of the tools to succeed here and he’s shown his prowess at finding fairways and greens in regulation at the recent WGC Dell Matchplay Championship. Like our other picks success will rest on a good week with the putter but he certainly can make birdies as his 59 at the Northern Trust last year has shown.

Collin Morikawa

2020 Masters Finish: T44

  • Par 5 Scoring Rank: 78 out of 217 (-58)
  • Par 4 Scoring Rank: 13 out of 217 (-16)
  • Driving Accuracy Rank: 9 out of 217 (69.64%)
  • Putts Per Round Rank: 82 out of 217 (28.86)
  • SG Approach Rank: 1 out of 217 (1.2 per round)
  • GIR Rank: 5 out of 217 (72.53%)

Why We Rate His Chances

It would be very surprising if Collin Morikawa goes through his career and doesn’t win the Masters as he has all of the tools to succeed here. What will stand in his way is putting. In 2020 he averaged 30 putts per round at Augusta which although it wasn’t terrible it is unlikely to get the job done here. If he can find form on the greens where he is above average in general compared to the tour then he has a great chance of winning. He has shown what he can do with a Major and a World Golf Championship already in the trophy cabinet before the age of 25.

Something else to note is that he is the top player this season in terms of strokes gained on approach to the green and third total tee-to-green which if he can keep up stands him in good stead around Augusta.

Data Sources:
https://www.pgatour.com/stats.html

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